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Iran Press TV

Five UN Chadian peacekeepers killed in northern Mali

Iran Press TV

Thu May 19, 2016 1:1PM

Militants have ambushed a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in northern Mali, leaving five Chadian soldiers dead and injuring three others, UN sources say.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said on Thursday that the troops were killed after they came under a militant attack about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Aguelhok in the northern Kidal region on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson confirmed that the peacekeepers' convoy hit an improvised explosive device improvised explosive device (IED) and then came under fire from militants operating across the troubled region.

Ban has called it a "heinous attack" and noted it would be considered a war crime under international law.

Figures show at least a dozen peacekeepers have been killed since the start of the year in a series of attacks against the peace keepers in the Kidal region.

According to reports, 29 members of MINUSMA were killed last year and more than 80 were wounded.

Reports say 2,000 Chadian soldiers of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) are at the forefront of a French-led military intervention launched in January 2013 to repel the militants who had seized vast stretches of northern Mali following a coup back then.

In recent years, dozens of Chadian troops have deserted their posts over pay and living conditions, complaining that they had not received any salary for months.

Mali has been witnessing violence linked to militant activity in its northern regions since 2012. The area remains vulnerable to attacks despite the military intervention led by France.

In June 2015, Tuareg separatists, who have launched a number of uprisings since the 1960s, signed a peace deal with the Malian government. The peace agreement, brokered by Algeria, raised hopes for an end to years of unrest in the country; however, its implementation has proven challenging.

Northern Mali is home to a separatist movement as well as to al-Qaeda linked militants who have staged a series of high-profile attacks both in Mali and in neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso.

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